As usual, the beetle is battling back.
Potato growers are unique among all farmers in having to contend with the crown prince of insect pests, the Colorado potato beetle (CPB). It thrives on plants of the nightshade family. It is well adapted to natural toxins. It knows how to marshal its internal mechanisms to detoxify synthetic chemicals as well. The litany of its triumphs over a host of insecticides the past four decades reads like a lamentation.
And now it is showing signs of neutralizing the neonicotinoids. This class of insecticides evoked fervent grower gratitude when it was introduced a dozen years ago. For some it saved their businesses. But the early punch against the potato beetle is starting to wear off.
Resisting the increasing insecticide resistance of CPB is a complex task but extremely necessary, said new National Potato Council (NPC) President Don Sklarczyk of Johannesburg, Mich.
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During the 1920s and 1930s, potato chip companies relied on Ohio potato growers to supply them with chipping potatoes. Dan Dee Pretzel and Potato Chip Co. built a plant in the midst of the potato-growing region in 1938, and Frito Lay still operates a plant in Wooster, Ohio.
But potato production has waned in the Midwest state, as has the participation of the remaining growers, said Don Ramseyer, a Smithville grower and former president of the Ohio Vegetable and Potato Growers Association. That group merged with the Ohio Fruit Growers Society and the Direct Agricultural Marketing Association in January to form the Ohio Produce Growers and Marketers Association.
The Ohio Farm Bureau had managed the fruit and vegetable groups, but the bureau did not renew its contracts this year. Finding a new service provider to manage the associations meetings and farm tours was part of the push
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If I could choose one word to describe my year as chairman, it would have to be transformation. It truly gave me a new perspective on the potato industry, different from what I had just 12 months ago.
Part of it is, Ive logged more travel this year than in my entire adult life. Ive visited cities and institutions I never thought Id set foot in. Many of the places I traveled to gave me the opportunity to see potatoes through a different set of eyes those of retailers, chefs and consumers, both domestic and foreign. If I were to choose one word to describe what these audiences want from potatoes, it, too, would be transformation.
Whether it is product innovation, packaging changes, new varieties or better handling, for consumers to increase their consumption of potatoes, the industry will have to change. I heard this
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U.S. consumers have serious concerns about the produce they buy. The Produce Marketing Association has surveyed primary household shoppers since September 2006, when an E. coli outbreak associated with bagged spinach sickened hundreds across the country.
Nearly one in five of the 1,000 shoppers surveyed in March said they had no confidence in the overall safety of produce. And the March survey was the first increase in consumer confidence since the outbreak occurred more than 30 percent responded with high levels of confidence, approaching the 37 percent level seen before the E. coli outbreak.
Spinach has been affected the most, but other fruit and vegetables have suffered as a result. Consumers will continue to buy produce because they know at some level it is healthy, and fewer and fewer people grow their own. The potato industry already has the challenge of declining consumption, so ensuring a
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The U.S. Potato Board elected its board for 2007-08 during its annual meeting March 14-16 in Broomfield, Colo. Larry Alsum, general manager and owner of Alsum Produce and Alsum Farms in Friesburg, Wis., was elected chairman of the board.
This will be Alsums fifth year on the USPB board. He started on the research and domestic marketing committees, then served as the chairman of the research committee, co-chair of the domestic marketing committee and member of the executive committee.
Alsum Produce is a packaging and marketing company for potatoes and onions, and the farm is a 1,300-acre potato growing operation. Alsums packing shed is a state-of-the-art, 60,000-square-foot facility with equipment designed to minimize damage to tubers during packing. The companys products are branded under the Absolutely Alsum name and distributed throughout the eastern and southern United States by the companys 25 trucks and more than 50 trailers.
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